On Thursday James Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
It will be the Greatest Show on Earth that day, broadcast live by every major network:
“The Young and the Restless” will be preempted by a different soap opera on Thursday. The star will be former FBI director James B. Comey.
In a rare move, CBS is scrapping its daytime lineup to carry live coverage of Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and NBC and ABC are doing the same.
This is a big deal that places the Comey session on a shortlist of congressional hearings deemed worthy of live airings on broadcast television — a list that includes the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954, Watergate hearings in 1973, Iran-contra hearings in 1987, Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991 and President Bill Clinton impeachment hearings in 1998.
Chris Cillizza at CNN calls the testimony Washington’s Super Bowl:
Washington politics has often been described as sports for people who weren’t all that good at sports. If that’s true, then Thursday’s congressional testimony by fired FBI Director James Comey is this town’s Super Bowl.
The networks are covering it live because Comey is their best hope to justify the Russia-mania of the past six months. Will Comey finally unload a dumpster full of collusion and/or obstruction evidence on Donald Trump’s head live on network TV?
We won’t know, of course, until we get there, but ABC News is lowering expectations with at report that Comey will not accuse Trump of obstruction of justice:
There will be much in former FBI Director James Comey’s upcoming congressional testimony that will make the White House uncomfortable, but he will stop short of saying the president interfered with the agency’s probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a source familiar with Comey’s thinking told ABC News.
Although Comey has told associates he will not accuse the President of obstructing justice, he will dispute the president’s contention that Comey told him three times he is not under investigation.
The president allegedly said he hoped Comey would drop the Flynn investigation, a request that concerned Comey enough that he documented the conversation in a memo shortly after speaking with the president. In the memo, according to sources close to Comey who reviewed it, Trump said: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” during a February meeting.
The request made Comey uncomfortable, but the source tells ABC News that Comey has told associates he will not accuse the President of obstructing justice.
“He is not going to Congress to make accusations about the President’s intent, instead he’s there to share his concerns,” the source said, and tell the committee “what made him uneasy” and why he felt a need to write the memo documenting the conversation.
Jake Tapper is reporting the same information:
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) June 6, 2017
If this plays out, it will be as I predicted. Comey would have no issue making the accusation of obstruction of justice, if he were inclined to do so. His May 3 Senate testimony arguably did not address anything Trump did, as I explained in Here’s how James Comey can wiggle out of his May 3 testimony.
But Comey would be hard-pressed to allege obstruction of justice since he never reported it to DOJ (as far as we know) or in prior congressional testimony.
So the logical path for Comey is to say he was uncomfortable, but avoid assigning intent to Trump’s actions.
So it will be like what Comey did to Hillary, spend a lot of time painting Trump as a criminal but ultimately never make the accusation.
That, of course, is if the reports are accurate.
Comey’s testimony is not without risk to him and others. According to Circa, Comey has refused to answer numerous bipartisan Committee written questions about who Comey spoke with and shared information:
If that refusal extends to public testimony, the optics for Comey will be horrible.
As for Trump, he wishes Comey “luck” in his testimony:
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